James the Sweep: affordable, professional and recommended
James the Sweep is affordable, professional and recommended. That’s quite a statement to make, isn’t it? Talk about blowing your own trumpet. Or rather, in this case, sweeping your own flue. And it sounds like the sort-of marketing ploy you’d expected from a local businessman.
But the question isn’t whether or not James the Sweep is being a bit self-indulgent by making such claims. Rather, the question is simply this: is it true?
Is it true that James is affordable for householders and businesses? Chimney sweeping is an unregulated profession, so is it true that James is professional? And ‘recommended’ – what does that mean? Who are these people who’ve recommended James as a chimney sweep?
Let’s break it down and start with ‘affordable’. £60. That’s the standard cost for chimney sweeping. What does that include? It includes a full sweep after a site inspection, a smoke test and a certificate issued by the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, which can be used for some household insurances. James will also use fresh dust sheets for every job. £60 – it’s not a lot of money to keep your household safe from the very real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Secondly, is James professional? As stated, chimney sweeping isn’t regulated by authorities. Yet some chimney sweeps take the profession very seriously indeed, and James is one of them. James is a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and he is also approved by HETAS, the national body working for consumer safety.
Recommended – we like to respect customers’ right to autonomy but consider these comments, which are 100 per cent authentic, about the services given by James the Sweep across Kent and East Sussex: ‘very thorough, punctual, clean and a particularly friendly chap’ (Matthew); ‘quick, efficient and very little mess. Remarkably good value’ (Fiona); ‘Quick, clean, friendly and very knowledgeable’ (Howard); ‘good service, very clean and a nice guy’ (Sonya); ‘no mess – no fuss and no dust. Just good service’ (Maiwenn) and ‘Top man, top service and not too expensive! Two thumbs up!’ (Will Griffiths).
James the Sweep looks after chimneys for customers in Hadlow, Tunbridge Wells, Crowborough, Southborough, Hildenborough, Tonbridge, Pembury, Maidstone, Seven Oaks and Paddock Wood. And when it’s said that James is affordable, professional and recommended – that’s a simple fact. A fact about this Master Sweep, which is 100 per cent true! Why not book a sweep with James today and see for yourself?
James the Sweep supports the BurnRight campaign helping consumers to burn fires efficiently, which is better for the environment.
Chimney sweeping makes ‘a big difference’ – Defra Clean Air Strategy 2019
THE HEADLINES have been buzzing this week about the launch of Defra’s Clean Air Strategy 2019.
Some people believe the government is trying to get rid of stoves and chimney sweeping will soon be a thing of the past. Nothing could be further than the truth!
The aim of the strategy is to tackle air pollution, seen as the biggest ‘environmental risk to human health in the UK’. Indoors fires comprise 38% of primary emissions of particulate matter (non-gaseous substance). Burning coal in open fires is a big worry because it emits dangerous sulphur dioxide.
However, that doesn’t mean indoor fires are going to be stopped. It means instead a change in direction – the most polluting fuels, such as domestic coal will prohibited (if the law is passed). New fuels from recycled goods will be tested before being made available. But you will still be able to use fuels such as wood (make sure it has a moisture content of 20 per cent or less). Ask James the Sweep for guidance.
So… the strategy is clear that  you can still use your stove and  you can use certain types of fuel for that. There’s another point that  ‘only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022’.
But the strategy is equally clear that chimney sweeping is a key weapon in tackling air pollution.
Defra says: “A local professional sweep can help consumers get it right, ensuring that they get the most from their stoves and provide advice on optimum operation. This can help save money and avoid chimney fires. It is recommended that a chimney is swept twice a year.
“Using cleaner fuels, in a cleaner appliance which is installed by a competent person, knowing how to operate it efficiently, and ensuring that chimneys are regularly swept, will all make a big difference.”
James the Sweep is on standby to clean your chimney if you live Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Tonbridge or nearby areas of Kent – or East Sussex, such as Crowborough. Get in touch today!
HOW do chimneys pose a carbon monoxide risk?
They don’t… in themselves. Chimneys, in the context of domestic fires, are structures with space inside, which pose no risk of carbon monoxide if they are kept clean. They exist to get rid of carbon monoxide and other dangerous gas – and that’s the problem. Chimneys MUST be maintained to work efficiently and to keep your family safe from the threat of gas poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, deadly gas produced by fire which needs to be expelled to the outside atmosphere in a safe manner. Notice the emphasis on ‘needs’ – the importance of that cannot be overstated. Lives depend upon it, in fact.
A chimney is basically an escape route for carbon monoxide and other gasses produced by the fire. But like all escape routes, they need to be kept clear. Soot and other residue is also produced as a result of the fire and this sticks onto the flue or flue liner. Imagine the effect of that overtime if the chimney is not swept! The soot layers build and build – meanwhile, you can light your fire and, if the chimney isn’t clear of soot, the dangerous gas has no escape route. Carbon monoxide will roll back down the chimney into your room, like a snake full of poison. That sounds far fetched but this gas will kill you. It’s a fact.
Indoor fires are a safe, wonderful heating method. And the look and appeal of a fire stove or open fire in the home is simply beautiful. Nothing beats sitting in front of your fireplace, relaxing with a glass of wine in hand (if the kids are in bed!). But the safety aspect is ONLY reliable if your chimney is swept regularly. That’s why James the Sweep cleans chimneys for residents in Southborough, Pembury, Maidstone, Paddock Wood, Hadlow, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Crowborough, Hildenborough… anywhere near Tunbridge Wells! Let’s keep your loved ones safe so that you can enjoy your fire with peace of mind – BOOK A SWEEP NOW!
If my stove’s safe, why’s there soot in my chimney?
Wood stoves should certainly be safe if they are installed by a proper HETAS-approved installer or similar professional chimney technician. If not, you could be in trouble. A professional installer will ensure the chimney is swept properly and there are no issues in the flue or flue liner (replacing if needed) and also ensure that the measurements of the stove, chimney and nearby room all complement each other. He or she will guide you in the correct choice of stove and then install it into the fireplace area. If you don’t have a chimney, a twin-walled system can be set-up for you.
So, let’s say the stove is installed and you’ve been enjoying indoor fires for a while. Why can there still be an issue with soot in the chimney? If you don’t like reading technical stuff… time to brush out of this blog and read another article on the James the Sweep website instead (the blog about Mary Poppins Returns is a lot less technical!).
For those who like tech – stoves have 75 per cent more oomph than open fires (oomph isn’t a technical word but it conveys a better sense of power, compared to boring old ‘more efficient’). That means the nearby room receives more fuel heat and gas in the flue tends to be colder. This results in tar condensation. Generally, the atmospheric temperature is 50C for flue gas condensates (the tar liquid created by condensation) as a result of burning coal or wood. This all means that soot (tar, acid and other yucky stuff, to use another technical term) will be present in the chimney. Wood also has less oomph when it comes to burn rate, compared to coal, so you’d be likely to see an increase in condensates as a result.
Tars and acids will eat into your chimney structure and cause damage. Any cracks caused also carry the risk of leaking gas created by the fire, such as lethal carbon monoxide, into your home. Soot of course, blocking the flue, also means that gas cannot escape safely to the outside atmosphere – it will roll back down your chimney and into the room. It can kill you and your loved ones.
This all sounds dramatic and you may think, ‘Well, if it’s that risky, why bother with a stove or even an indoor fire?’ That’s understandable but the good news is that you don’t need to worry at all IF – and this really is an important ‘IF’ – you ask for advice from a chimney sweep, preferably a member of the Guild of Master Sweeps. A professional sweep will not only sweep the chimney to clear soot and other condensates. He or she will also keep a regular check on the set-up (ask for advice on how often it all needs checking) to ensure that it is safe to use. If there has been any damage, sometimes getting a flue relined (after remedial works to the chimney) or a new flue liner, a twin wall insulated flue pipe to keep the flue gas warmer, for example, would be appropriate.
The key message here is this: if you’re concerned about tar or acid deposits in your chimney, as a result of the stove, don’t worry. It can be remedied but you MUST contact your local chimney technician, ASAP. Make sure any chimney sweep is a member of the Guild of Master Sweeps. And if it’s an installer, check that he or she is registered with HETAS.
If you live in Kent or East Sussex – just get in touch with James the Sweep. James oversees chimneys for customers in Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Crowborough, Hadlow, Hildenborough, Paddock Wood, Pembury and Maidstone.
Tonbridge: a proper Kentish town
The interesting aspects of the market town of Tonbridge are explored elsewhere on the James the Sweep website. So, we don’t want to repeat all the facts and figures about this quaint settlement just four miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells, in the Tonbridge and Malling District of Kent.
Even so, Tonbridge deserves to be recognised as a cultural leader when it comes to presenting Kentishness (if such a word exists) in Kent. It’s the heady concoction of the Tonbridge Castle and River Medway, alongside the busy community, which evokes that picturesque idealism. The icing on the Kentish cake is the surrounding countryside, especially the hop farms that are the epitome of the county of Kent. What can beat the verdant splendour of the hops with that heady, unique aroma, which can almost make you feel a bit giddy?
Whatever season you find yourself in – Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer – the changing landscape around Tonbridge shows the best side of Kent in all its glory. Of course, from a chimney sweep’s point of view, it’s the Autumn and Winter that hold a particular appeal as we observe the peaceful whirls of smoke from chimneys across the town. It gives a sense of peace of mind – as long as those chimneys have been swept properly. [And if they haven’t, contact James the Sweep right now. Remember that a standard sweep costs only £60. Not a lot of money to keep your family safe!]
James finds that customers in Tonbridge always have a sunny disposition. It’s that sort of place where a knock on the door is met with a smile, a warm invite to step over the threshold into a hearty home where the kettle is no doubt boiling and a cup of proper English brew is soon pressed into the hand. Kentish folk are mainly friendly folk and this sense of hospitality is perfectly found in the dwellings and streets of Tonbridge.
James loves sweeping chimneys for customers in Tonbridge. He’s been doing so for many years and will continue to do so for many years ahead!
Experience always counts with chimney sweeping
James the Sweep has been sweeping chimneys for customers in Kent and East Sussex for more than 20 years. That’s a long time! Imagine how many chimneys James has swept over the years. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds! For James, sweeping chimneys has become something of a second nature. He can get the job done quickly and efficiently.
That’s not to say there’s always something new to learn. The wider area of Tunbridge Wells contains all sorts of buildings – castles, manor houses, family homes, business premises – and each set-up can throw different challenges. Birds’ nests for example, or perhaps some chimney remedial work. Even so, James is able to employ his experience in tackling any tasks. When he leaves a site, the chimney will be in properly working order and all necessary safety checks will be made. If further work is required – repairs to the chimney stack for example, or the need for a new flue liner – James will give professional advice. The customer is kept informed at all times.
Experience is important. There are a lot of cowboy traders out there or so-called sweeps who just don’t have the knowhow, who don’t put the customer’s best interest at heart. James is an official member of the Guild of Master Sweeps. He’s known by many people across Kent as the premier chimney sweep for the county, from T Wells to Southborough, to further afield. Friendly and personable, James is serious about keeping residents and business owners safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Pick up a phone directory or Google it – and you’ll find a number of chimney sweeps advertising services in Kent and Sussex. The difference with James is that he really is experienced. So, when you ask him to sweep your chimney (standard charge is only £60), you’re in a safe pair of hands with a tradesman who is proven to have your safety as his foremost priority. Look at these testimonials and see for yourself what people are saying about James the Sweep.
Remember – James is a member of the Guild of Master Sweeps with more than 20 years experience sweeping chimneys in the areas of Kent and Sussex. He keeps himself informed about the latest techniques in cleaning chimneys and the best practises employed by the industry.
Stay safe during Christmas celebrations
‘Tis the season to be jolly. Or at least, it soon will be. And even if you read this after festive celebrations are over, there’s always other events such as Epiphany, Easter etc. Or birthdays. Let’s be honest, when it’s gloomy and clouded-over and you feel that slight shiver walking down the street (even if you’ve bought a furry coat from one of the many splendid shops in Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Maidstone, etc) – you will be thinking about huddling indoors.
And we all know what hudding indoors means. It means enjoying a fire indoors! Winter gives a great excuse for a celebration. In fact, several celebrations. In fact, celebrating by yourself (and why not? What could be better than nursing a glass of port with Mr Tom your pussy cat or Fido your faithful hound curled on your lap, while staring thoughtfully into the dancing flames of your indoor fire?).
Let’s enjoy safe celebrations, however. Make sure your chimney is swept by James the Sweep (if you live in Kent or Sussex) before using your stove or open fire. That’s safety tip number 1. Obvious – but so often overlooked. Not having your chimney swept regularly results in a dangerous risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Check too that your stove appliance or open fire are in good working order. Any doubts at all, ask your installer (or call James the Sweep if you’re in the Tunbridge Wells area). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for stoves.
That was tip 2. Equally important is tip 3 the last tip: common sense precautions. That means don’t store dry wood near the indoor fire. You have probably seen photos in magazines or the internet of the so-called ideal home, with a lounge, a fireplace with a lit fire and stacks of wood all around the area of the appliance. It’s a fire hazard. Wood should have a moisture content of 20 per cent or less and be placed outside in a proper log store until ready for use. Be aware too of other fire hazards in the room – anything else flammable near the fire or anything lying on the floor (specially with kids), which could cause someone to trip over.
And if you have a celebration party (even if it’s just and the cat or dog) make sure that there are no crazy antics near the fireplace. Have fun… but be careful!
Sevenoaks: surprising nuggets
James the Sweep enjoys his role as Master Chimney Sweep for Sevenoaks, the flagship town which gives its name to the Sevenoaks District. There are many facets of Sevenoaks which are known to the wider public with its splendid shopping centre and busy community. And, of course, the famous oak trees that were sadly ravaged by the great storm of 1987.
But there are also aspects of Sevenoaks which may surprise you or historical nuggets, which have been largely forgotten. Residents who have lived in the town for many years will likely know these historical events. Yet they add to the overall charm of this wonderful town, known for its landscape of quaint houses with chimneys galore located in a beautiful backdrop of the Kentish countryside.
There are so many stories to choose from, of course, but here are just a few.
The Beatles [pictured] filmed scenes for their hits Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane in Knole Park. It happened in February 1967 when the famous stars took over part of the park to do some surreal things such as covering a piano in paint and leaping from dead trees. It wasn’t the only time that a location in the county of Kent featured in the Beatles’ videos. The pop group’s ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ involved filming at West Malling airfield over a five-day period with scenes such as a tug of war with local kids and a big dance scene. There were extra scenes shot at a newsagent in Maidstone’s High Street.
Knole Park was also connected to someone with a huge influence on the nation’s (arguably) most popular sport. Everyone knows the story about ‘Lumpy Stevens’, the first great bowler, bowling poor John Small an impressive thrice right through the stumps – which led to a middle stump being set up to stop this reoccurring, somewhat changing the game. It happened in 1777 although Sevenoaks has been playing host to cricket games since 1734.
Some people may not realise that Lumpy Stevens was, in fact, a gardener at Knole Park. Not only that, but other famous cricketers of the time were also employed by the estate: William Bowe, John Minshull and Joseph Miller.
And here’s another unusual fact related to cricket, while we’re on the subject. Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club has a cricket bat dating back to 1745. Fair enough, you may think but why is that special? Because it was made by the Petts, a well-known family in Sevenoaks who are believed to be the first ever manufacturer of cricket bats.
Well, this is a short snapshot of interesting facts about Sevenoaks. If you know of any others, do let James the Sweep know and we can post them here in the blogs section of his website!
… She’s back!
Though I spends me time in the ashes and smoke
In this ‘ole wide world there’s no ‘appier bloke
Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee!
Well, there’s a lot of excitement at the prospect of Mary Poppins Returns being released in cinemas on December 19 – some 54 years after the original film! Dick Van Dyke, now aged 92, stars again in the sequel as Mr Dawes Jr (having portrayed Mr Dawes Sr in the first film).
Of course, it is Bert the chimney sweep that Mr Van Dyke is most remembered for. Dancing on the rooftops, whirling his chimney brush and singing with gusto – Bert has become something of a cheerful symbol for sweeps. The public, even where James the Sweep works in Tunbridge Wells and nearby Kent outside of London, often conjure up the image of energetic Bert when they consider the imaginary notion of a chimney sweep.
Alas, Bert won’t be reappearing in Mary Poppins Returns. Street lamplighter Jack (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda) takes on the role of cheeky chap and romantic companion to Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins. ‘Trip A Little Light Fantastic’ looks set to be the equivalent of ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ with Jack and other leeries (streetlamp lighters) doing a dance and song, which will definitely evoke memories of Bert and his fellow sweeps dancing and singing ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ in the original movie.
James the Sweep enjoys the romantic myth of chimney sweeping, which extends to other literary forms not just Ol’ Bert created by PL Travers in Mary Poppins. It has its origins of course in the Victorian era, when the plight of child sweeps slowly gained public attention. Sweeps were seen as something mysterious, belonging to another world. Even so, despite all the fun dancing and singing, chimney sweeping is a serious business that saves lives from the deadly risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. James the Sweep, although he always has a smile on his face, takes that professional challenge very seriously indeed.
I choose me bristles with pride
Yes, I do
A broom for the shaft and a brush for the flume
Up where the smoke is all billered and curled
‘Tween pavement and stars is the chimney sweep world
Carbon monoxide is a very real danger in your home!
We have to take on board, with the utmost respect, warnings about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s the key message James the Sweep gives to customers, wherever they live in Kent or East Sussex: Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Southborough or Maidstone and Crowborough, etc. It’s such an important message as well. Taking this seriously will protect your life, and the lives of your loved ones.
Talking about carbon monoxide in this context sounds like marketing spin. After all, James is the Master Sweep for T Wells and nearby areas. So, of course he would encourage people to sweep chimneys. This is his livelihood, after all… Yes, true. But James the Sweep is very serious about his profession and the importance of his profession.
If a firefighter gave you advice, do we say, ‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he? That’s his job.’ No! We respect the professional advice given by the fire service. Yes, James the Sweep wants to sweep your chimney. Yes, it’s his ‘job’. However, why does he choose chimney sweeping as his job? For the simple reason that he’s passionate about protecting people’s lives from unsafe indoor fire set-ups. Who would you rather see at your front door? A chimney sweep or a firefighter? The sweep, of course! Prevention is always better than cure.
Chimney sweeping is a very serious profession. If your chimney is not swept regularly, you and your family could die. It’s a blunt but true fact. Fire gases need a safe passage away from the indoor fire and out to the atmosphere. If the chimney is unclean with soot residue blockages, that stops carbon monoxide leaving. The invisible gas will roll back down the flue and back down inside your home. Read more here about the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Book a chimney sweep with James the Sweep today and keep safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning!
10 reasons why I love sweeping in Tunbridge Wells
James the Sweep loves chimney sweeping in Kent and Sussex. It’s such a beautiful part of the world. There’s nothing better than tootling along in the Kentish countryside for a chimney sweep in Sevenoaks, Southborough or other towns and villages. Based in Tonbridge, James has a particular fondness for Tunbridge Wells, or rather, ROYAL Tunbridge Wells.
Here are 10 reasons why James loves working in T Wells:-
The residents. Are people in Tunbridge Wells different? Everyone knows the famous ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ letter, which has come to represent stuffy middle class England. EM Forster also wrote a negative viewpoint of the town in his novel, A Room with a View when Charlotte Bartlett said she was used to T Wells, ‘where we are all hopelessly behind the times’. – Now, listen, James the Sweep has been sweeping chimneys in T Wells for 20 years and those views of residents are NOT TRUE. Residents in T Wells are warm, friendly, hospitable and not judgemental. T Wells has a lovely community with people who are passionate about their town!
The ‘royal’ bit. Tunbridge Wells was just known as Tunbridge Wells until King Edward VII decided to give a royal charter (in 1909 if you must know) and henceforward the town was officially called Royal Tunbridge Wells. It’s actually very fitting because the general ambience of T Wells, whether it’s the Georgian/Victorian architecture or atmosphere, feels regal. T Wells looks and feels like a special town and the ‘royal’ prefix recognises that!
The Pantiles. There’s always a buzz about this town centre hub and nearby High Street. It has a relaxing feel to it, a bit like the Mediterranean. All sorts of cafes, eateries and independent shops thrive there. Located at the heart of the town, this Georgian-era walkway and colonnade was the epicentre for the landed gentry wanting to bathe in the town’s mineral waters, with the Chalybeate Spring at the northern part of the hub.
The Chalybeate Spring is the reason why T Wells developed. The popularity of the spring for noblemen and ladies dates back more than 400 years. The waters are high in iron and this was seen as good for all sorts of health conditions. Quite right too!
The Spa Valley Railway. The sight of one of these historic steam or diesel trains choo-chooing along the heritage railway line always makes you smile! Trains run from Tunbridge Wells Railway Station in the town itself to Eridge and High Rocks, Groombridge. It’s wonderful to have such an attraction
within T Wells itself.
Shopping non-stop. It’s not just The Pantiles that offers amazing shops. There’s the High Street (already mentioned) plus the Royal Victoria Shopping Centre and Calverley Precinct as well as Camden Road. Shops seem to be everywhere in T Wells!
Food – whatever you want, you’ll find it in Royal Tunbridge Wells! Old fashioned English food fare, Kentish specialities, Chinese, Sushi, Thai, Indian, numerous gasro pubs and the regular farmers’ market and other food fests. James the Sweep’s favourite is chimney cake, of course…
Nature. The town of Royal Tunbridge Wells is on the northern part of the High Weald. T Wells is surrounded by the beauty of the Kentish countryside and there are a number of parks in the town such as the Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons and Calverley Ground. Tunbridge Wells Common, Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, Groombridge Place and Dunorlan Park are also worth a visit.
Arty stuff. Residents in T Wells love nothing better than joining in a music spectacle, laughing at a play and admiring museum exhibits. T Wells caters for all that with venues such as Trinity Arts Centre, The Forum and Assembly Hall Theatre.
Chimneys. That might be a surprise but from James the Sweep’s point of view, chimneys are a MUST on the list. For the simple reason that chimneys in T Wells are beautiful, whether in a terraced home, semi detached or detached, or a stately home.
Burn right and get it right with James the Sweep!
We all breathe the same air – and we all want that to be fresh air! That’s why James the Sweep has been delivering ‘Burnright’ brochures to customers all over Kent (Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, etc) and Sussex (Crowborough, etc) in the past month or two.
Why? Because James is passionate about residents and local businesses enjoying efficient wood fire stoves and open fires, alongside clean chimneys, which do not harm the local environment. He is often asked the same questions by residents about how to burn wood correctly and he’s happy to answer queries. But Burnright is a handy guide, which you can keep close to hand and refer to when needed, giving you the recommended instructions for indoor fires.
Burnright gives handy tips on how to burn indoor fires efficiently. Air pollution is a widespread problem and poisonous air is caused by a number of factors such as agriculture, construction and engines. Indoor fires (stoves, open fires) are often overlooked but they can cause tiny particles of pollution inside a home or workplace.